In the 19th century, the United Kingdom gradually expanded its influence in the region through a series of peace and protectorate treaties with the individual emirates. These so-called "Trucial States" merged into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 1971 and since then have formed a federal state, composed of the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm-al-Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah and, since 1972, Ras-al-Khaimah. The culturally related states of Bahrain and Qatar were invited to become part of the UAE but ultimately chose independence. Since its establishment, the UAE has experienced spectacular economic development, thanks to its very large oil and gas reserves, particularly in Abu Dhabi. As a result of its energy wealth, Abu Dhabi is the most prosperous and influential emirate in the UAE. Abu Dhabi contributes 62% of the UAE's GDP while Dubai's contribution is 26%.
The presidency and prime ministership of the UAE are assigned to the Al Nahyan tribe of Abu Dhabi and the Al Maktoum tribe of Dubai respectively. The Supreme Council, which consists of the leaders of the seven emirates and elected representatives from the Council of Ministers, and has a total of 40 members, has the task of reviewing the proposed laws. There is a federal judicial system, to which all emirates have acceded except Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan was the president of the union from its establishment until his death on 2 November 2004. The Federal Supreme Court elected his son, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan, as president the following day.
On 16 December 2006, the first ever elections are held, a small number of selected voters get to choose half of the representatives of the Federal National Council, an advisory body. In September 2007 Dubai and Qatar became the largest shareholders in the London Stock Exchange. In January 2008, France and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement giving France a permanent military base. In March 2009 Sulim Yamadayev, a rival of President Ramzan Kadyrov, died after an assassination attempt. The Burj Khalifa was opened in January 2010 and at that time was the largest building in the world. In May 2011, the United Arab Emirates took part in an international intervention force in Libya. In July 2013, Islamic extremists are sentenced to prison for suspected anti-government conspiracy. In January 2014, Sheikh Kalifa undergoes surgery after suffering a stroke.
See also history of the United Arab Emirates
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country ProfilesLast updated January 2023
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